Some 85% of the UK's canned and bottled beer will carry labels to show how many units of alcohol they contain by the end of this year. Meanwhile, "responsible drinking" messages on packaged beers will more than double in the same period.

A survey by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) shows that 17 major British brewers will have unit labelling as standard on their beers by the end of 2005. As a result, 85% of the beer sold in cans and bottles in the UK will be unit labelled. By the end of the same year, 84% of bottles and cans will also carry a message encouraging people to drink responsibly.

"Not only are we encouraging our customers to drink responsibly, reinforcing the government's sensible drinking message, but we are also demonstrating what this really means in practice through the inclusion of unit labelling," said Mark Hastings, director of communications. 

"We are committed to enabling people to make better and more informed choices about their drinking behaviour. Helping consumers understand what and how much they are drinking, so they can make better decisions about their consumption, is an important part of this."

Bottled and canned beer now represents 44% of all beer sold in Britain.

"The rapid expansion of unit labelling and responsibility messaging across British beer is just one example of the steps producers are taking to advance customer understanding of the risks of alcohol misuse," continued Hastings. "Providing information on units of alcohol and responsible drinking is part of our continuous commitment to improve consumer knowledge."